Mark your calendars: saxophonist Ted Brown will be playing his first official New York gig in thirty years this coming January 12th at the Kitano Hotel — with a congenial rhythm section of Michael Kanan, piano; Murray Wall, bass, and Taro Okamoto, drums.
In the late 1940s, Ted Brown, Warne Marsh, and Lee Konitz were among the first students of jazz innovator Lennie Tristano. And Brown continues to evoke the spirit of Lester Young — as he did when I saw him play alongside Joel Press and Michael Kanan at the end of June 2010. Here are Ted, Joel, Michael, Neal Kanan, and Joe Hunt exploring ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE at Sofia’s Ristorante (Ted is wearing the red shirt, if you don’t know him by sight or sound):
Brown has performed and recorded with Tristano, Marsh, Konitz, Art Pepper, Kenny Clarke, Art Taylor, Jimmy Giuffre, Jimmy Raney, and many others. His best-known recordings are probably JAZZ OF TWO CITIES with Marsh and FIGURE AND SPIRIT with Konitz. (Both also feature Brown’s own compositions.)
Brown’s more recent years have often been lean: he has worked as a computer programmer. But even when not performing regularly, he continued to practice at home and play private jam sessions. His sound has retained its purity, warmth, and intimacy. Perhaps he’s even grown as artist; certainly he is playing just as strong as on his classic recordings.
Supporting Brown at the Kitano are players connected to both the Tristano universe and serious swing:
Michael Kanan (piano) studied with Tristano-disciples Harvey Diamond and Sal Mosca. He was a member of the International Hashva Orchestra (Mark Turner, Nat Su, Jorge Rossy) which explored original Tristano/Marsh/Konitz repertoire. Kanan appears on Kurt Rosenwinkel’s INTUIT and has had long term associations with Jimmy Scott and Jane Monheit.
Murray Wall (bass) has performed Clark Terry, Benny Goodman, Buck Clayton, Ken Peplowski, Jon Hendricks, Marty Grosz, Annie Ross, Billy Eckstine, the EarRegulars, Michael Bank, and Mel Torme. And upon arriving in New York from Australia in the 1970ss, he also studied with Tristano.
Taro Okamoto (drums) has performed with Sal Mosca, Warne Marsh, Hank Jones and Sadik Hakim. He was also an assistant to Elvin Jones. Most importantly for this gig, Wall and Okamoto have been playing together for 30 years!
The Kitano Hotel: 66 Park Avenue at 38th Street, NYC. Sets at 8:00 and 10:00. No cover charge, $15 minimum good for food or drink. Reservations recommended: 212-885-7119. http://www.kitano.com.
P.S. I saw Ehud Asherie and Harry Allen at the Kitano this summer. There’s a first-rate piano and they make a fine mojito! Look for me — in between sets, of course: I’ll be the person intently looking through a viewfinder.